Sen. Thune: We Need to Repeal Obamacare

South Dakota senator on fate of health care law


This is a rush transcript from "Your World," October 17, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF "YOUR WORLD": Is the White House backpedaling on reports that it's all ready now to pull a key part of the health care law?

The assistant White House press secretary saying moments ago not so. "We do not support repeal. Repealing the CLASS Act isn’t necessary or productive. What we should be doing is working together to address long- term care challenges we face in this country."

Now, CLASS, of course, is a reference to a form of long-term health insurance in this new law.

Reaction now from Senator John Thune, who all but predicted this.

Senator, now what?

SEN. JOHN THUNE, R-S.D.: Well, I hope that we can get it repealed, Neil.

The president has said he would veto a repeal of the CLASS Act, even though his secretary of health and human services, who is responsible for implementing it, said it is not workable, and you cannot design this in a way that makes it work. That’s a conclusion that she came to which many of us knew months and months ago when this thing actually was passed in the first place.

If they had listened to the repeated warnings from the experts in their own department, the actuary at the Health and Human Services said this program will not work and he said that way back before they pushed it through. But this was something that they wanted a political win on and, unfortunately, to the detriment of the American taxpayer.

But this is one of those rare occasions here in Washington where logic actually triumphs politics, at least for now. But we need to push this thing through and get this thing repealed once and for all.

CAVUTO: But what is interesting, Senator, by backtracking on this and then the administration kind of saying, well, it’s not that this is a waste of time, after the health and human services secretary all but said on Friday, well, be that as it may, it looks like it could have been a waste of time, this whole health care law itself -- and this was a key tenet of it -- it’s almost up there with having people forcibly buy insurance to be part of it.

This gets to call the whole law into question, does it not?

THUNE: It does. And it makes you wonder what other parts of the health care bill, what did they know that they're not telling us about other elements of this health care bill, because this was a massive new entitlement program that was not paid for.

And they tried to get some premium revenue in the first few years that they could use to help pay for the health care bill, knowing full well that when they got into the later years and the demands on this program started to come in, that it was going to add to the deficit.

That was clearly -- the Congressional Budget Office came to that conclusion. The actuary came to that conclusion. These guys, the Obama administration repeatedly ignored the warnings that were coming out of their own administration that this will not work.

And so it does draw into question other elements of this bill now, but first and foremost what we ought to do is repeal this, get this off the books. Do not give them an opportunity at some point in the future to try and reactivate this, because this in its current incarnation, this doesn't work.

CAVUTO: Well, the only way you can ultimately have it turned over is in the courts, maybe the Supreme Court, and that could happen sometime next year, we don't know. But barring that, is it safe to say -- the administration of course has already made it clear, it’s going to expound on the benefits of this, a lot of your kids covered for preexisting conditions, more people covered than before, that the benefits outweigh the minuses, and do not listen to Republicans like Thune who are telling you it’s not worth the paper it is printed on.

What do you say?

THUNE: I think that has been kind of the case all along. My view on this has been that a lot of times when they pass these new expansions of government -- and the health care bill when it's fully implemented is a $2.5 trillion expansion -- I believe that's a conservative number.

And then just assuming at some point in the future people are going to like these, these programs will be so popular that people will be willing to pay higher taxes to keep them going. And we just cannot afford that anymore. We are in a huge fiscal hole. We've got to start addressing that and we can’t dig the whole deeper.

And what the CLASS Act did was dig the hole that we're in even deeper and putting more and more debt on the backs of our children and our grandchildren. And that’s why at least temporarily this is a victory, but we’ve gotta win the war. And there’s a lot of battles yet to fought on that front.

CAVUTO: We will watch it closely. Senator John Thune, good seeing you again. Thank you very much.

THUNE: Thanks, Neil.

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